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Coaching and Expertise in the Six Cultures

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Over the past twenty eight years, I have recognized the need for cultural analyses of organizations from the perspective of those who lead and work in these organizations. (Bergquist, 1993; Bergquist, Guest and Rooney, 2003; Bergquist and Pawlak, 2006; Bergquist and Brock, 2008) I assumed that those inside the organizations might welcome an understanding of organizational culture, because many organizations seem to be particularly resistant to influence and change.  The dynamics of contemporary organizations are often difficult to understand. Any framework that can help bring order to the complexity of these organizations will be greatly appreciated.

Six Organizational Cultures

It has become increasingly fashionable to describe organizations as cultures. Anthropologists, management consultants, organizational psychologists, and other social scientists have become enamored of this concept and have helped to popularize the notion that cultural analyses yield important insights about the life and dynamics of an organization. Four different, yet interrelated, cultures of leadership and coaching are often found in contemporary organizations. These cultures have a profound impact on ways in which leaders and coaches view their current work, as well as ways in which they perceive the potential for personal benefit and organizational improvement.

These four cultures also influence how those outside the organization perceive the purposes and appropriate operations of organizations, and how they believe they themselves should interact with these organizations. Two of the four leadership and coaching cultures can be traced back several centuries. They are the professional culture and the managerial culture.  The other two have emerged more recently, partially in response to the seeming failure of the two original cultures to adapt effectively to changes in contemporary organizations. The first of these more contemporary cultures is referred to as the alternative culture and the second is referred to as the advocacy culture.

There are additional external influences in our global culture that are pressing upon the contemporary organization, forcing it in some ways to alter the way it goes about its business. Two new leadership and coaching cultures are emerging in organizations as a result of these global, external forces. These two cultures interact with the previous four, creating new dynamics. The first of these two cultures, the virtual culture, has been prompted by the technological and social forces that have emerged over the past twenty years. The second culture, the tangible culture, has perhaps existed in some form for quite some time, but has only recently been evident as a separate culture partly in response to emergence of the virtual culture.

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